I once had a patient who had a stroke at 99-years-old. She appeared to have a miraculous recovery and was discharged from the hospital without follow-up therapy.
But, her daughter noticed that she’d stopped talking—and that her memory seemed off. Two months post-stroke, I was called in for an evaluation.
After assessing the patient, I recommended a Memory Book.
The daughter dug out old photo albums, and we organized pictures into a personalized book, adding captions to spark even more memories. When presented with the book, her mother immediately lit up and began regaling us with stories of her youth.
The daughter thanked me through tears of joy. All it took was a simple Memory Book to ignite her mother’s memories and help them reconnect.
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Who Should You Make a Memory Book For?
A Memory Book, also known as a “Reminiscence” or “Orientation” Book is a meaningful and often fun memory tool for our patients with memory difficulties or dementia. By adding images and simple text about their current and past lives, the books can help them orient to where they are and what’s happening around them. It can also unearth emotions that trigger memories.
Help your patients:
1. Orient to Self, Location, and Purpose
2. Orient to Family and Friends
3. Orient to Medical History and Status
4. Orient to Daily Schedule, etc
5. Decrease Anxiety and Increase Independence
6. Reduce Repetitive Questions
How to Use a Memory Book
Teach caregivers and loved ones how to use the memory book. Most use a memory book as a way to communicate and share in an activity with their loved ones.
Here’s what you can say to caregivers:
Memory books are meant to be a fun sharing experience. Slowly flip through the book and encourage conversations by pointing to photos and asking, “Who is this?” or say, “Look, it’s old Auntie Helen!” Remind your loved one to read captions to help her remember information.
Avoid “quizzing” your loved one or asking, “Don’t you remember?” Instead, provide opportunities to share parts of their life’s story.
Memory books can also be used to answer any repetitive questions your loved one may ask. For example, if they frequently ask “When are we going home?” prompt them to find the answer on Location Information. You can add, “It says that you live here now! You have a nice room.“
How to Format a Memory Book
1. Include photos whenever possible. Include short captions as needed.
2. Place/print photos and text on plain white computer paper (8.5″ x 11″).
3. Include headings and page numbers on each page.
4. Write or type using large text (24 points of larger).
5. Limit text to 3-4 short sentences on each page. Use numbers or bullet points.
6. Place paper in plastic protective sheets.
7. Keep the book in a 3-ring binder or photo album.
Memory Book Table of Contents
(Include Plenty of Pictures)
1. Personal Information
– Full name, birth date, birth place
– Fond childhood memories
– Hobbies and talents
– Memorable happy events (e.g. vacations, buying a new car, winning an award, etc.)
2. Family Information
– Spouse’s name, career, hobbies, traits, etc.
– Children’s names, careers, hobbies, traits, etc.
– Parent’s names, careers, hobbies, traits, etc.
– Pets’ names
3. Friends Information
4. Location Information
– Current residence (e.g. “the yellow house”, “retirement home,” “Bobby’s house”)
5. Medical History
-Recent hospitalizations or surgeries
– Wake up time, meal times, reading hour, etc.
7. Any other Salient or Important Information
Memory Book Example Pages
Here’s your Memory Book Template (PDF)
Your downloadable Memory Book Template is 13 pages and includes:
1. A Cover Page
2. Table of Contents
3. Pre-formatted Memory Book pages
4. Patient Schedule Page
5. Emergency Medical Information Page
6. A Medication Page
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